The Counseling Service for the Elderly has for many years offered services to the elderly that are provided by retired volunteers in all 22 branches of the National Insurance Institute (NII). The Service provides three main services: 1) Friendly weekly visits to the elderly in their homes; 2) Preliminary one-time home visits to elderly persons at risk or in distress; 3) Counseling to the elderly and their families to provide assistance and support, and to enable them to exercise their rights.
The Service serves some 200,000 elders annually with the help of some 4,500 volunteers.
In recent years, the Service has faced new challenges due to changes in the elderly population in Israel and in the network of services provided to them. In light of these changes, the Service initiated an evaluation study aimed at systematically re-examining the Service’s activities and assist in determining the directions for future development.
The goal of the study was to examine the services provided by the Service from three perspectives: of the directors (responsible for implementing services at the 22 NII branches); the volunteers providing services, and the clients. Information for the study was gathered from all the directors; from the volunteers providing the three main services (regular, friendly home visits – 399), preliminary home visits – 150); and counseling – 150); and from clients receiving services (regular home visits – 199; counseling – 150).
The study was conducted by the Institute in cooperation with the NII Research and Planning Administration.
The study findings present a comprehensive picture of the following topics:
The social-demographic characteristics of the clients and volunteers
Patterns of utilization of the three main services
Recruitment, placement and training of volunteers
The clients’ assessment of the contribution of home visits and counseling, and their satisfaction with these services
The volunteers’ perception of their roles, and their satisfaction
Unmet needs and suggestions for improvement
The findings were presented and discussed at the study steering committee and at a number of meetings with local directors of the Service. In the course of the evaluation study, many meetings were held with the managerial staff of the Counseling Service for the Elderly in which the findings and ensuing issues were discussed. Since the completion of the study, several changes have been introduced in the work of the Service and the managerial staff continues to rely on the findings and examine options of applying insights from the study to improve the Service.